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الموقع تحت الإنشاء

النسخة التجريبية من موقع النهضة العربية (أرض)

The Global Network on the Question of Palestine (GNQP) strongly rejects the ongoing disinformation campaign against the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees


It is the employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) that are once again at the forefront of the humanitarian effort during the ongoing war in Gaza, amidst having lost 109 of their colleagues since 7 October and their struggle for survival. Recognition of the agency’s invaluable role during the current conflict exemplifies earlier praise for UNRWA’s work in providing quality education, health care, and other social services to some 2.8 million Palestine refugees and other persons registered or otherwise eligible for services, in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem (out of a total of 6.7 million individuals recorded in the agency’s registration system).


At a time when Israel’s actions in Gaza point to “a genocide in the making” two partisan and polemical organizations – IMPACT-Se and UN Watch – claim that UNRWA promotes antisemitism and violence in its schools. This campaign is the latest iteration of a longstanding and systematic effort to erase Palestinian history and culture and attack the rights of the Palestine refugees that UNRWA serves.


In keeping with international practice and based on longstanding agreements, UNRWA teaches host state curricula in its schools. This facilitates the accreditation of learning outcomes and can support social and economic inclusion. UNRWA continuously reviews this material to ensure it complies with UN values including human rights, peace and tolerance. UNRWA’s textbooks are subject to far more external scrutiny than those of any national education system, including Israel’s. Time and again UN investigations and independent reviews have debunked the accusations made by IMPACT-Se whose practices include: citing material that is not taught in UNRWA schools; mistranslation; and willful decontextualization of textbook content.


In the face of these spurious claims and IMPACT-Se’s ongoing efforts to influence UNRWA’s donors, the GNQP underscores the following:


  1. Any reduction of financial support for UNRWA at this time would worsen the current humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Indeed, previous cuts to the agency’s budget had a detrimental impact on its services. Almost 300,000 children attend UNRWA schools in Gaza, which provide them with academic knowledge and skills and much needed psychosocial support. UNRWA also provides vital food aid, shelter, and health services to the refugees. The agency’s history and presence in the area make it an indispensable partner for relief efforts.
  2. Attacks on UNRWA’s education program have been repeatedly discredited and disproven. They need to be understood in the context of a broader campaign to delegitimize the agency and, by extension, the Palestine refugees it serves.
  3. Any discussion about the potential of Palestinians’ education to mitigate conflict and promote peace, needs to begin with the unacceptable conditions Israel has imposed on Palestinian children. In Gaza this includes 75 years of dispossession, 56 years of military occupation and 17 years of blockade, all of which have been characterized by extreme levels of violence against children.


Since this most recent aggression began, Palestinians have been killed inside UNRWA schools – places where they were seeking shelter and safety under the UN flag from the relentless Israeli bombardment. To date, more than 108 UNRWA staff in Gaza have been killed – the largest number of UN staff killed in any conflict worldwide. 77 UNRWA installations have been destroyed or damaged, including 23 which were directly hit, with UNRWA schools comprising the majority. At least 218 Internally displaced Palestinians who were sheltering in UNRWA schools have been killed, with another 894 injured. In this context, discussions about UNRWA need to focus on addressing the ongoing injustices against Palestinians that created the conditions for the agency’s creation and ongoing mandate after 74 years, and in bringing in more – not less – funding for the agency to provide much needed humanitarian aid to millions of refugees.